If we take folklore seriously, most ghosts have a story to tell, a wrong to correct, or unfinished business.
When ghost hunters investigate a haunted site, most ghosts seem to fit that profile.
In almost every case:
– The ghost wants something specific to happen before crossing over. Or, the ghost is afraid to cross over for other reasons.
– In some cases, the ghost refuses to believe that he or she is dead. Ask them what year it is, and you’ll usually get the year the person died.
– Or, it’s actually an energy imprint, not a ghost (or spirit) lingering at the site.
A few tales — such as the “green lady” stories of Scotland — offer other explanations. Green ladies remain in homes that they loved. Those are benevolent spirits. They protect the building and the people who live in it. Each “green lady” ghost isn’t trapped in the house. She could leave whenever she wants to. She’s happy to stay there.
Green lady ghosts are like the spirits of relatives. They visit us to check on our safety and happiness.
I’m not sure that I’d call that a ghost. The spirit isn’t trapped in our plane of existence.
By contrast, a banshee may also be a relative of the family it guards. Is the banshee trapped here? Is it a ghost, or — as much folklore suggests — part of the faerie realm? It’s difficult to establish boundaries and precise definitions.
Until we’re sure that ghosts exist, and what they really are, we can’t be sure why they haunt houses… or any other location.